Wednesday, June 29, 1994- The Michigan Daily -5
James Bond vs. PC
It seems as of late that the only joke guaranteed to elicit universal smiles is one
making fun of so-called "political correctness."
First-yearstudentsofbothgenderseagerly mock the conceptof beinga"freshperson";
a nationally syndicated cartoon shows two women agreeing that once being politically
correct takes away their freedom to speak and think as they choose (implying that men
have already lost theirs)when the game will end; another cartoon shows a woman being
urged to buy a skimpy swimsuit on the basis that this new style is "PC-approved."
James Bond has even joined the party. Well, not 007 himself, but Pierce Brosnan
- the actor chosen to play Bond in the next movie. The hype surrounding his new
contract was full of warnings to the adamantly politically correct.
"Devotees of political correctness," the Associated Press wrote, "will have to deal
with the return of 007's suave, sexist ways ..."
Remington Steele-turned-British-spy told reporters, "You're dealing with fantasy,
so political correctness has to be eased up a little." Thanks for the tip, Pierce.
So "political correct devotees" (read: women without a sense of humor) are going
to have to let down their guard and submit to "fantasy" (read: suave man overcoming
he initial protestations of a beautiful woman).
Since when did political correctness become a doctrine, with rules and guidelines
to either be followed or ignored? And when did the now much-disdained PC become
an element of humorless women?
The idea behind political correctness, if memory serves me, was to raise conscious-
ness. Being PC meant recognizing that some language choices people make without
thinking may offend others. Indian vs. Native American, black vs. African American
vs. Black-there was never a guaranteed right over wrong, but rather an awareness of
the ramifications those words may have. PC used to be little more than diction - a
conscious choice of diction.
PC was also about letting people speak up and listening to what they said. If women
who had experienced rape wanted to be called "survivors" and not "victims" (who in
the context of most other crimes are usually dead), being PC meant listening to them
and respecting their request.
But now PC is equated with censorship, Orwellian thought police, and infringed
First Amendment rights. Some students complain that PC prevents them from speaking
freely in class; professors say PC limits their ability to teach; and now movie-makers
are warning that their vision can't function within politically correct bounds.
Iwonder what thoughts and ideas are being limited by these people's concept of PC.
How do they know that what they want to say isn't PC? Yes, some people offend more
asily than others, things can be misinterpreted, and words and meanings can become
skewed on occasion, but in general, saying something in good conscience should be PC
Since I highly doubt that Pierce Brosnan is out to make an intentionally offensive
movie, I have a feeling that when he suggested "easing up" he was referring to women's
states of minds. And a state of mind is not easily forgotten - especially not for the
duration of a 100-minute film.
Perhaps women of the '90s won't be too fond of the James Bond from the '60s.
Maybe his sexist antics, disrespectful behavior and objectification of women will be
rejected at the box office. My guess is it won't. First of all, most of the leading women
remember from 007 movies were smart and independent, even if they did always end
up in bed with Mr. Bond. In fact, a lot of those women were assertive and powerful,
nothing offensive there. Secondly, I hardly look to action-adventure movies for role
models; if anything, I should be grateful that the movie will actually have a woman in
Yet if the upcoming "Goldeneye" film does actually offend, if it truly results in
blatant objectification and degradation of women, myself and others like me won't skip
it because we're PC. We'll skip it because we don't enjoy seeing that type of thing on
screen, even if the Associated Press thinks we should "deal with it."
David Gergen. The name connotes a Republican communications expert,
astudentofthe advertisingexecutiveswhodirectedboth Nixon campaigns and
the real "make-up" man for former President Ronald Reagan. But the one thing
Gergen is not is exactly what his new job requires him to be: foreign policy
On Monday, President Clinton moved Gergen from the presidential
residence to the State Department for his place of employment. He will become
a member of the highest-level foreign policy formulating team in the U.S.
government, and thus will play a heavy hand in this country's foreign relations
in the months to come. This is a scary prospect-the man who worked on the
Nixon image, the man who molded the Reagan legacy and the man whom
Clinton insiders distrust is now affecting our national security. Sleep tight.
America Invades the World
PARIS - It's most unfortunate,
but true. We live in an American-
dominated world. I've been traveling
through Europe in search of exotic
adventure and looking for ways to
escape America, but have failed
miserably. From Prague to Krakow
to Berlin to even Anglo-reviling
Paris, everywhere there has been a
glut of McDonalds, Pizza Huts,
Aerosmith, Burger Kings, the
Chicago Bulls, the L.A. Raiders and
other such nastiness. All things
American, which is not necessarily
all things evil, is not what I had in
mind. When you can purchase your
favorite Wolverine paraphernalia in
Gdansk, Poland (700,000 zlotys for a
block M hat), enough is enough. I
left the United States not because I
dislike it by a degree, but because I
needed some fresh air. I didn't come
to Europe to see everyone clad in
Levi's and Air Jordans. I didn't come
to Europe to hear Rage Against the
Machine belching from a boom box
in the market square. I didn't come to
Europe to almost get run over by a
guy riding a Harley.
It would be criminal for me not to
mention that Europe is still graced
with a unique magnificent charm. If
you're blessed with the opportunity
to go, don't hesitate one instant.
(Judging by the number of Michigan
students here already, that advice is
hardly needed.) Such old world
trademarks are plentiful: the sidewalk
cafe, the rousing beer halls and pubs,
the narrow cobblestone streets, the
old men playing Bocci Ball in the
park, the colorful Sunday market
and, of course, the cathedrals. Oh,
and I don't care what anyone says, no
one can make cars like the Europeans
Looking back, I wonder exactly
what sort of warped picture I
expected when I first arrived. Did I
forget too easily that modern-day
Europe has come a long way from
the quaint hamlets and feudal manors
I may have wished for? Did I forget
that Europe now is a complex and far
from trouble-free society that readily
reflects its 40 years of coexistence
with "Pax-Americana"? Did I forget
that Europe is quickly becoming as
ethnically diverse as the United
States? The post-World War II era
has changed Europe almost as much
as the preceding 2,000 years had, and
it shows. The Old World may be
gone forever, and I'm sure that we
did little to slow the process.
For those that would fight to keep
American influence out, there's little
chance. MTV has already captured
the hearts and minds of European
youth - checkmate! In what could
be considered reassuring, a French,
Polish or German teeny-bopper could
almost certainly fit in at any mall in
the States (and vice-versa). But in
response to what is also a potential
loss of identity to American "cultural
imperialism," there are those that are
worried, and are showing it.
So what was my original point?
Oh yeah, in my quest to get away
from America, Europe was apoor
choice of escapes. I guess I probably
should have known that. Of course,
I'm only slightly complaining.
Europe is still miraculously rich and
any length of time spent here will
dazzle the senses. Only, don't forget
millions have already made that
crossing before you, and my, how
they've left their mark. What would
you like with your fries, Monsieur?
Keating is a European correspondent
for the opinion page.
- N °
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